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LIVING WITNESS_ Poems for Joyce Ashu Tang


  1. Wait Not To Wake

For decades we slept like the Lotos Eaters

Hardly a stir amidst shattering nightmares

Where knocking thunderbolts and angry storms

Tore off the roof over our heads

For donkey years we slumbered

While vermin drained the spa water

From our sinewy veins with no repulsion

While mosquitoes and chiggers stuck in us.

For ages we were corpses on grey slabs

In beds with purple fleas in feasts

While the angry sky fired down meteors

We snored like sows in a sty.

Dawn clamours at the mortuary portal

The foe is back with an olive branch

But the opium has hit expiration

And we shall wait not to wake.

Kindred spirit hitherto deaf and dumb

Now nod to the melody of morning birds

Knitted brows too blink at the dawn

As all marvel the hidden treasures now stripped bare.


Black ravens and crows cawed in the sky

A cloud of gloom folded the earth

Terror-struck chicks sought bolt holes

In cracks and fissures in the debris

Beneath which laid mother hen interred

Compelled migrants thronged the borders

In search of sanctuaries for their heads

Time to make friends with unfriendly familiarities

The new climes of unusual heat or frost

And hearken to the welcome song of

Assailing mosquitoes (in our ears)

Time for countless plagues knocking to stay

With our famine-stricken skeletons

Time to comb the forest for manna foods

Or let the bones repose in perpetual peace

Time for altruistic bona fide benefactors

To call with huge reliefs of pap and salt

Then linger to see us perish one by one

Surely the raids shall come to pass

The nomads shall become settlers

And new tribes shall sprout

From the shanties of refugee babies

Babies born sans midwife’s aid

New nations are born in pains so!


Half a century took us to graft this yacht

Sticking local patches from prow to stern

With canes and bamboos mounted masts

And hoisted sails with fronds from keel to cap

For the momentous voyage afloat to Nirvana

Dissenting pessimists hooted and booed

Ascertained ours was a nose – dive quest

Scavengers waited with crustaceans’ antennae

For the carrion of full hardy rakes

In raving reveries afloat to Nirvana

How many thousand leagues in the deep

None could say with faith how soon

Our ramshackle boat would groan to dock

When tempest toast in stratus squalls

We brace the voyage afloat to Nirvana.

When at length went the long blast

I cannot tell who took the helm at last

Amidst flared – up waves haughty and tall

We mustered valour contending roaring gales

And clutching one another afloat to Nirvana

Raging typhoons menacing tattered sails

Her crew benumbed as masts shattered

And sails split in bits of straps and tagged fronds

Wasn’t this hallucination pure delusion?

But the calm captain reassured our anchor at Nirvana.

We besought progenitors for intercession

And summoned our deities in supplication

Our cause was just, our quest legitimate

We plunged deep into invocations and entreaties

Rekindling faith we sailed afloat to Nirvana

Now hail! Hail the tattered yacht in patches

Wobbling tediously to her native anchor

Hear her crew rejoice in chants and praises

Of the Captain who took the helm in the storm

Now abated as we dock in peace at Nirvana

* Nirvana is a state of freedom from all suffering, the spiritual attainment of joy, free from any attachment to worldly things.

  1.   We Have a Choice 

Decades of satanic verses

Of unrepentant demagogy

Clamped down on us

Yet we have a choice

Alternating seasons of tyranny

Constrained compelled enslaved

Battered and whisked to hellish camps

Yet we have a choice.

Myriads of untold carnage & genocide

Abject lack piles up to suffocation

While pulpits pour unholy sermons

Yet we have a choice

Hammer mad gongs of harmony

And shatter sane minds to perplexity

Now we know the hidden agenda

And we have a choice.

Go tell the untold stories

Un-scroll the secret clauses

Dawn is now for us

We have a choice.

Dawn is come to us at last

Our dawn in Ambaland

Good morning Ambazonia

We have the choice.



I want to dream

Of a home of joy

Blessed with the fruits of toy

I want to dream

I want to dream

Of the river of fortune

Flowing in a land of options

I want to dream

I want to dream

Of a civil patrimony

With time-honoured harmony

I want to dream

I want to dream

Of a fatherland of liberty

With deep-rooted codes of equity

I want to dream

I want to dream

No longer of haunting quack mires

Nor of nightmarish vampires

I want to dream

I want to dream

Never ever of dungeons but of oneness

Ever always of El-dorado of loving kindness

I want to dream

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